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Germ Warfare
Irene Buckler

As the years go by, some married couples may grow to hate each other. Itís as if their marriage passes its use-by date and then it decays. However, every now and again, you may come across a husband and wife, such as Nev and Peg,who have loathed each other since the day they met.  Why such couples marry will always be a mystery to ordinary folks such as you and me.  However, marry they do and as matrimonial combatants, Nev and Peg have been doing their best to make each other miserable ever since. 

Their wretchedly filthy hovel of a home has always been in turmoil, but now that Nev and Peg are elderly in every grotesque way that neglect of personal hygiene, diet and fitness can wreak upon the human body, they square up for their final conflict. Itís no longer enough for Peg to routinely spit into Nevís cup of tea when heís not looking, or for Nev to surreptitiously spread his ear wax on her buttery sandwiches. Itís no longer enough for her dip his toothbrush into their stinky toilet, or for him to blow his slippery nose on her smelly pillow. Disgusting though their usual pranks may be, their attacks on each other take on a sharper edge, a murderous intent, if you like, with each determined to outlive the other.

Matrimonial animosity intensifies when Nevís heart pills suddenly go missing. Then Peg gets an eye-popping jolt from a suspiciously frayed electrical cord and so it goes until that fateful day when Nev and Peg finally become one, a putrid lump of rags, fat, skin and bones, rotting at the bottom of the stairs. Though you and I may be completely certain, that one of them, either Nev or Peg, deliberately smeared the thick layer of axle grease found on the steps, we will never know which one it was who set the trap for the other. What we do know is that they both take a thumping tumble and land together in a fatal embrace, Nevís arthritic hands locked grimly around Pegís fleshy neck. 

Though are now long gone, neighbourhood children assure me that Nev and Peg are not forgotten. Their stench lingers on.

(Issue 26, autumn 2019)